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Relieving Phantom Limb Pain After Amputation

Relieving Phantom Limb Pain After Amputation

If you’re one of the 2 million Americans who have lost a limb, you’re no doubt worried about life after amputation — and for good reason: Losing a limb is never easy. What’s more, the road to recovery is often exacerbated by phantom limb pain

The team at Anthony Echo, M.D., with two offices in Houston, Texas, understands the chronic pain amputation can bring. As a board-certified surgeon specializing in microsurgery and peripheral nerve surgery, Dr. Echo helps patients adjust to life after amputation by relieving the ongoing burden of phantom limb pain.

What is phantom limb pain?

Phantom limb pain is extremely common after an amputation, affecting an estimated 70% of amputees. It presents as itching, hot or cold sensations, pins, needles, or feelings of pressure in the area of the removed limb. This occurs because the severed nerves continue sending signals to your brain. It can also happen when neuromas, collections of hypersensitive nerve and scar tissue, form at the end of the severed nerves.

Pain ranges from mild to debilitating and can last for seconds to days or longer. Phantom pain symptoms can decrease over the first six months post-amputation, but for as many as 50 percent of amputees, it is a chronic struggle for others.

TMR offers relief

Dr. Echo alleviates phantom limb pain with targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR). TMR works by surgically reassigning the severed nerves to other motor nerves. This re-routing creates a new neural circuit and redirects signals into muscles, alleviating your phantom limb pain symptoms. 

Since nerves take time to heal, results from TMR aren’t immediate. Most patients experience maximum results about six months after surgery, and TMR works best when used alongside other treatments. Dr. Echo works with your complete medical team to make sure you get the best care possible. 

Additional help: Regenerative peripheral nerve interface (RPNI)

This procedure reduces your pain by wrapping the end of a nerve with a small piece of muscle taken from a nearby site. The cut nerve attaches to receptors in the muscle, which deactivates the nerve. RPNI may be performed when you undergo amputation or later when the stump is reopened. It may also be performed in conjunction with TMR. 

Both surgical techniques are revolutionizing the management of amputation-related pain. 

If you’re worried about life after amputation, contact the experts at Anthony Echo, M.D., to get your questions answered. Reach us by calling the Houston, Texas, office nearest you or requesting an appointment online.

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